In today’s age of shout-along hooks and pop rap made for the common denominator, it’s reassuring to hear lyricism is still alive. Each month TRU picks a single verse out of the vast amount of records released and dissects why we think it’s the best verse of that month. More than simply good verses, these are lyrics of fury.
A project minded individual, criminal tactics
Us blacks kids born with birth defects, we hyperactive
Mentally sex-crazed dysfunctional they describe us
They liars, the end of the day, we fucking survivors1
I remember watching Scarface the first time2
Look at that big house, that Porsche paid for by crime
How could I sell this poison to peoples in my mind
They dumb to destroy themselves is how I rationalized3
In a bastardized nation, Magnum 4.5 carrying
Where I’m from, ain’t far from Washington Heights, the cop Aryan4
A rookie boy the cookie didn’t make no profit
A stranger to the block I damn near had to make them cop it
It only took a fiend to taste it once to say it’s garbage
I brought it back to papi, ain’t tryin’ to take no losses
He focuses on my emotionless young dealer face then pauses
He gives me powder he has faith in Nas’s
Ambitions to distribute coke
Had additions to gold chains, Mercedes Benz hopes
But I’m again broke5
This shit aint cut for me, other dealers they up their orders
Barely at 62’s they already up they quotas
They out there everyday, some true hustlas for ya
I’m at it halfway, none of my customers are loyal
Picturin’ piping out the seats of a Pathfinder
Powerful pursuit for pussy cash, the flash diamonds
My junior high school class, wish I stayed there6
Illegal entreprenuer I got my grades there
Blaming society, man it wasn’t made fair
I would be Ivy League if America played fair
Poor excuse7, and so I was
Throwin’ rocks at the pen just for the love
Evil the secret life of G’s8
You seeing my blurry9, triple beam dreams
In the very first installment of our new monthly feature, a veteran takes the title for January. Nasir Jones in storytelling mode is always a treat, even on his weakest albums (I Am, Nastradamus) the songs where he chose to spit a specific parable are shining beacons of light among the rubble. For his guest verse on ‘Triple Beam Dreams,’ a track on Rick Ross his latest mixtape, Nas takes a novel approach. Talking about the way riches seduce young thugs into the drug game isn’t anything new, but when was the last time you heard somebody tell how he turned out to suck at hustlin’ rocks? What’s even more surprising is Nas spits this verse on a Rozay tape, a project once again filled to the brim with tales of a don on top of the aforementioned game. Everybody knows Rozay’s experiences don’t even remotely come close to the criminal life he describes, but his audience takes the fable for granted, living a shared dream by proxy through the gravelly-voiced southerner.
Nas completely disspells the dream by actively pointing out it is in fact, a mere dream. A dream that has dark sides and regrets when followed, and doesn’t necessarily lead to the riches associated with it. Ironically, the juxtaposition only contributes to the believability of the lyrics. Another remarkable thing about it is Nas is never preaching here, he’s talking from personal experiences and makes it easily understandable why anyone would choose this risky ‘career path.’ By expressing his regret about lost opportunities he spins a powerful yarn describing the difficulties and pitfalls waiting, wether you hit the block or the books. For a kid growing up where he comes from, there are no easy choices.
1. Right off the bat, Nas poses a powerful disparity between the way kids like him are often seen in the light of the status quo and what their true potential is. They easily fall between the cracks of the system by the all the stigmas attached to them from birth, but by being around and striving they already prove several of those stigmas false. It sets the stage for a story taking place outside ‘the system,’ with a nonetheless ubiquitous opponent.
2. Who doesn’t? Relatable for everybody who cheered Tony on, even admiring him as his empire crumbled around after a shortlived high life.
3. By using the verb ‘rationalize’ Nas already implies doubt, putting it in the past tense foreshadows a change of heart.
4. Another mark of living outside the system and the differences between him and the society controlling him. His neighbourhood was black, the cop wasn’t. Washington Heights is also where the Audobon ballroom is located, the place of Malcolm X’s assassination.
5. Here’s where the twist is, even despite the local boss having faith in his ruthlessness and ambition young Nasir is no good as a dealer. His heart isn’t in it and he remains broke despite others flourishing.
6. Regret about the choice he made. He went for what he thought was the short route to riches but currently values education over the hustle.
7. Recognizing his own potential in hindsight he realizes he could’ve been an Ivy League graduate. American society throws up many hurdles for someone like him to reach that goal, but it does so for the hustler on the corner as well. The first seems unattainable but turns out not to be, the latter seems a more viable choice but turns out not to be.
8. People only see the high life a ‘G’ obtains but Nas knows the secret evil weighing them down.
9. As a youngster his vision was blurry, he didn’t know how to attain success but was (mis)guided by the triple beam dreams.
So there you have it, a masterfully told morality tale, autobiographical and inspiring without being judgemental. Nas didn’t succeed as a dealer but this product is pure dope.